Research Output

Social workers’ use of heuristics in risk assessment and decision making in cases involving sibling sexual abuse

  Between 1/3 and 1/2 of sexual abuse perpetrated by children and young people involves siblings as victims. The currently available risk assessment tools give this little consideration, and by offering only broad indications of the likelihood of re-offending provide little guidance on the particular risks that may be posed to individual children. Sibling sexual abuse raises difficult decisions for practitioners regarding whether or not siblings can remain living together following the abuse becoming known, practice guidance on this issue being contradictory. In this context, selected findings will be presented from a grounded theory study conducted in Scotland of 21 social workers’ accounts of their decision making regarding 54 children involved in sibling sexual behaviour. Decisions regarding siblings’ living arrangements could be distilled down to a few key heuristics, underpinned by a particular set of frames, which tended to have the effect of discouraging consideration of the impact of the sibling sexual behaviour upon the victim; of apportioning influence to the worker’s relationship with the parent rather than an assessment of their capacity to protect their children; and to a judgement of the character of the perpetrator rather than an assessment of risk. The presentation will conclude with recommendations for practice.

  • Type:

    Conference Paper

  • Date:

    07 September 2016

  • Publication Status:

    Published

  • ISSN:

    0945-2540

  • Library of Congress:

    HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    362 Social welfare problems & services

Citation

Yates, P. (2016). Social workers’ use of heuristics in risk assessment and decision making in cases involving sibling sexual abuse. Forensische Psychiatrie und Psychotherpie, 23(Supp 1), 164

Authors

Keywords

Child protection, sibling sexual abuse, children with harmful sexual behaviour, decision making,

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